As is usually the case, the SEC football schedule on the Saturday before Thanksgiving is a bit on the thin side.
But keep a few things in mind. When the schedule looks light and uneventful, that is when strange things tend to happen. Somebody, I don’t know who, is going to get a scare.
And beware of the cupcakes. Samford, the tiny college in Birmingham and alma mater of Bobby Bowden, rolled up 530 yards and 52 points on the Florida Gators last week. The Gators jad to overcome a halftime deficit to win, 70-52.
It will be Senior Day for a number of SEC schools, including Georgia. Florida and Missouri , who play each other, South Carolina (vs. Auburn), and Tennessee (vs. South Alabama) can all qualify for bowls on Saturday. LSU (4-6) needs a win over Louisiana-Monroe to keep its bowl hopes alive. With that as our backdrop, here are Five Burning Questions for this week:
1. What is the mindset of No. 1 Georgia?
Let’s put this Georgia season into perspective as it prepares to play Charleston Southern of FCS. The last time Georgia was 10-0 was 1982, when Herschel Walker won the Heisman Trophy and led the Bulldogs to an 11-0 regular season. Georgia then played (and lost) to Penn State in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship.
Georgia has had one 12-0 team in its history, the national champions of 1980. Georgia has won 13 games in a season only twice (2002, 2017). This is also the first Georgia team to go 8-0 in conference play-EVER!
The point is this: This Georgia team has chance to go where no other Bulldog team has gone before. After Charleston Southern (4-5) this week and state rival Georgia Tech next week, Georgia will play in the SEC championship game, most likely against Alabama on Dec.4. If Georgia makes the College Football Playoffs, it could play as many as 15 games and lay claim to being the best team in Georgia history.
2. Can Arkansas keep it close against No. 2 Alabama?
Arkansas (7-3) arrives at Alabama (9-1) with some serious momentum. The Razorbacks of Sam Pittman have won two straight over Mississippi State (31-28) and LSU (16-13). A big part of those wins has been the defense of Barry Odom. Arkansas ranks sixth in the SEC in scoring defense, giving up 22.0 points per game and sixth in total defense, allowing 346.9 yards per game. Last week Arkansas held LSU to just 13 points (one touchdown) and forced three turnovers. With a win No. 2 Alabama (9-1, 5-1 SEC) will clinch the Western Division title and set up the Dec. 4 SEC championship game with Georgia.
3. Can Florida bounce back at Missouri?
It has been a tough three-week stretch for the Gators (5-5). First, they had a major meltdown in the final two minutes of the first half against Georgia in Jacksonville and lost, 34-7. Then they were dominated at South Carolina, 40-17. Then they gave up 52 points-52 points-in a 70-52 win over Samford, an FCS school.
Head coach Dan Mullen has already dismissed two assistants, including defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. These next two games with Missouri and Florida State are what I call “quality of life” games for Mullen. Win them and your quality of life improves. Lose them and anything can happen.
4. How will Auburn fare against South Carolina without QB Bo Nix?
Last week’s 43-34 loss to Mississippi State was just devastating for Auburn (6-4). First of all, they saw a 28-3 lead at Jordan-Hare Stadium disappear as the Bulldogs put together a 40-0 run.
When the game was over, Auburn learned that starting quarterback Bo Nix would have ankle surgery and would miss Saturdays’ game at South Carolina and the Iron Bowl with Alabama on Nov. 27.
Enter transfer (from LSU) quarterback T.J. Finley, who will get the start against the Gamecocks. But Auburn fans are also interested in seeing true freshman Damatrius Davis, who has yet to play in a game this season. A player can participate in up to four games without losing a season of eligibility. For Auburn, this is all about getting ready to play Alabama next week.
5. So what does Ole Miss (8-2) still have on the line?
First of All, the Rebels are still in the hunt for the SEC West title as they prepare to host Vanderbilt.
Now it’s a long shot, but if Ole Miss wins its final two games against Vanderbilt and Mississippi State AND Alabama loses its final two games with Arkansas and Auburn, the Rebels go to Atlanta.
Ole Miss also has a great shot going to the Sugar Bowl if it can finish 10-2. And here’s a piece of history on the line for Ole Miss in the next two weeks. The Rebels have won 10 games in a season seven times. But never-ever–has Ole Miss won 10 games in the regular season.